Learn from the Best: Getting Started With Social Media for Your Small Business

I was reviewing a guest post that I did on Small Biz Survival a while back and it dawned on me that there are a lot of small business owners who are still struggling with getting started in social media.

When I was trying to figure out how to market my small business online, a lot of times I felt like I was stumbling around a foreign city with a paper bag over my head. Just when I thought I was going in the right direction I would bump into an obstacle and have to begin all over again.

Really, it shouldn’t be that difficult and if possible, I want my fellow small business owners to benefit from my (MANY) mistakes. Below are some resources that should help get you started.

Learn Small Business Social Media Marketing From the Best

There are a lot of talented people out there whose existing contributions can serve as an example for small business social media newbies everywhere.

Originally, I was going to run a “Learn From the Best” series over a week long period, but instead I decided to publish it as one long post that can be bookmarked.

If you own a small business and have been keen to conceptualize and take action on your social media and marketing plan via any of the following:

  • Creating a better story.
  • Defining your ideal customer.
  • Improving your website.
  • Creating content for your blog.
  • Implementing a Twitter strategy.

Then have a look at the professionals and their associated resources below. It should save you months of filtering and searching around for helpful information.

Learn From the Best: How to Create Your Small Business Story Like Seth Godin

Seth Godin (@thisissethsblog)
sethgodinblog

When I started my small business over three years ago Seth Godin’s content was quite possibly the most helpful to me. Seth is passionate about the fact that all small business owners have an important story to tell. He believes that you should incorporate your struggles, your uniqueness, and your remarkable attitude into the marketing of your brand or small business. Some of Seth’s posts that set me on a clear path toward developing my small business story include:

Learn From the Best: How to Market Your Small Business Online Like DoshDosh

DoshDosh (@doshdosh)
doshdoshblog

True to Maki’s ‘About’ page statement at DoshDosh, his site offers internet marketing tips and social media strategies. While a good portion of the content is directed at folks who are looking to generate income online, many of his posts will resonate with small business owners. The blog content at DoshDosh is presented with dissertation like thoroughness and it will never leave you guessing as to what the heck you have to do. Maki does not post all that often these days, but some of his relevant posts that helped guide my early online marketing decisions for my small business are:

Learn From the Best: How to Create Small Business Website Copy Like CopyBlogger

CopyBlogger (@copyblogger)
copybloggerblog

Once you have created a draft of your small business story and started to work on your social media marketing plan, you will then want to polish the copy on your website. One of the best website copywriters is Brian Clark, the founder of CopyBlogger. If you are willing to put in the work, and are willing to follow the Copyblogger copywriting techniques, your website copy can look and read like you spent a fortune having a professional writer draft sharp, relevant, and no B.S. information. The right website copy will help attract the ideal customer for your business. Here are three of Brian’s best articles to get you started:

Learn From the Best: How to Create Small Business Blog Content Like Darren Rowse

ProBlogger (@problogger)
probloggerblog

If you Goolge the highly competitive terms “blogging” or “blog” one site is sure to be on the front page, ProBlogger. Small business blogging does not have to be too complicated, time consuming, or difficult. But, it does require a consistent effort and in order to reap the benefits of blogging you must be willing to make a commitment to post at least once or twice a week  over a period of six months to a year. When I first started blogging as a way to promote my small business (CulebraBlog is my small business blog), ProBlogger was an invaluable resource. Here are some posts to help get you started:

Learn From the Best: How to Provide Value and Develop Trust like Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan)
broganblog

When it comes to social media, whether you own a small business or not, if you don’t provide value to your potential customers then you will not develop trust. It’s that simple. Without trust and value you will never be taken seriously when you attempt to promote your small business. Chris manages to publish an educational blog post almost every day and he somehow manages to  follow 123,000 people on Twitter amazingly well. He’s the kind of person you would want to have a beer with. For the small business owner who is new to promoting their business with social media, Brogan’s blog is a treasure trove of information. If you are looking to develop community and trust around your small business, check out these posts from Chris:

Learn From the Best: How to Develop Your Small Business Brand on Twitter like Alyssa Milano

Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa Milano)
milanotwitter I

discovered Twitter after I was already a few years into my small business ownership. Twitter is quite simply an amazing tool for engaging and listening to your customers, handling customer service, and developing your brand. There are tons of “How to Use Twitter” for small business success posts on the net. Heck, I have written a couple myself – 20 Must Read Beginner Twitter Tips for Small Business Owners and Ten People All Twitter Beginners Should be Following. But, if you’re looking for someone doing it “right” and who can serve as an example for small business owners, then you should add actress Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa Milano) to your follow list. Not only does Alyssa provide informative and useful information through her Tweets, most importantly, she cares (see: How Twitter Helped to Save the Life of a Dog). And caring just might be the most important small business social media lesson of them all.

So, what’s the real magic?

Small business social media marketing requires you to determine which online tools allow you to best reach your customers and then balancing three key items:

  1. Providing value.
  2. Developing trust.
  3. Promoting (your business) sporadically.

That’s it. With the help of the people and blog posts listed above you now know the magic recipe for the small business social media marketing secret sauce.

12 Responses to Learn from the Best: Getting Started With Social Media for Your Small Business

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark_hayward: Learn From the Best: Getting Started With Social Media for Your Small Business – http://bit.ly/dkgKMy #smallbiz #socialmedia #marketing…

  2. Don Power says:

    Excellent post Mark!

    I’m glad that I’ve heard of, read and respect everyone on your list. Now I just need to spend some time to bookmark your post and read each of the recommended posts per topic!

    Great stuff. By the way – found this article via a RT from @trevord209 on Twitter.

    Cheers!

    - Don

  3. Sheila says:

    Very good choices. They are on my Firefox Coffee Cup Tabs.
    Haven’t been following Milano, so this will be interesting.

  4. Stone Atwine says:

    Thanks for the info.

    I have recently started a social media blog and these resources will truly help.

    I follow each and everyone on the list already apart from Doshdosh. I just started following him.

    Perhaps I am on the right path.

    Thanks again.

  5. Mark says:

    Hey Don – yeah, I figured most people would have heard of the folks on the list, but the content n their blog archives is true gold for the beginner small business owner looking to get into social media…

    Hi Sheila – putting Alyssa’s celebrity aside, the way she interacts and helps individuals (& animals) via Twitter is quite impressive.

  6. Great info!! I’ll be sure to share! & follow Alyssa Milano = ) Thanks for posting
    Joy~*

  7. Red says:

    I learned about this post via Alyssa Milano’s tweet.

  8. Marc Lucas says:

    Excellent article, I will be passing it around as a “must read”.

    Thanks.

  9. Deb says:

    Great post – happy you put it into one long post. Love Becky McCray over at Small Biz Survival, she’s been instrumental in my growth in this field.
    There’s a group of us committed to the growth of small businesses and retaining a vital rural culture – and I really believe social media is going to be the difference.
    Thanks again – will use this post to get others started!
    Deb from http://www.smallbizsocialmediasummit.com

  10. Dawn Mallory says:

    Thanx Mark, I appreciated the cherry picking you did for all of us out here … as overwhelm is also part of the mix for us small biz types! I think YOU are the one that needs to be on my follow list!!!… Dawn

  11. [...] for iPhone: Social media is still evolving and we are all still learning this stuff. To that end, you can NEVER know every little piece of small business social media minutiae. But, [...]

  12. Thanks for the useful information. Let’s not forget that there’s a lot of free courses out there for small businesses. It’s there if you look hard enough.